Hilarity did ensue

In her autobiographical comics (more particularly, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant), Roz Chast gives an insight in her relationship with her (late) parents that is at once loving but irritated, caring but exasperated. 

In the December 28, 2020 issue of The New Yorker, she brings up an anecdote that is a testament to the unconditional protective powerhouse that may be the overbearing mother. A short, but none the less brilliant strip.

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Whither inspiration?

We’ve only gotten as far as January 6, and I’m already running out of steam a little. What to present so as to keep you interested? Thankfully, Facebook has this wonderful “memories” feature, that presented me with this little ditty that got me al worked up some six years ago.

I was working at an ad agency in Antwerp at the time, and we received this mailing for a course of some sort on storytelling, organized by Kluwer. The “edgy sketchy” images that were used immediately hit home: this wasn’t just “inspired by” Wally Wood’s seminal 22 Panels That Always Work, these illustrations looked like they were basically traced. And since Wood’s work quite explicitly copyrighted the Wallace Wood Properties, that might not be strictly by the book (especially in an industry that is constantly throwing around concepts like copyright and IP).

Oh well, some poor art director probably got stuck without inspiration for this job, and decided to hack it. And six years on, they presented me with the inspiration for this post. Six transit gloria mundi.

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Ever wishes you a better 2021

As the annus horribilis that was 2020 is long gone by now, and two new issues have been published in the mean time, I think the good people at Humo Magazine won’t mind my sharing the splendid cover that Ever Meulen did for the final issue of last year.

It’s an image that has everything : cars, women, dastardly kids and even a dog. And a not so subtle message that as 2020 was indeed a car crash, let’s all wish for shelter of some kind in 2021.

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Eltingville Animated

In 2001 people in the know thought it would be a good idea to do an animated version of Evan Dorkin’s quintesentially nineties dorkdom comic, The Eltingville Club (I’m using the shortened name from the collected edition). Even though the pilot, which was based on the amazing story, Bring Me The Head Of Boba Fett, had quite favorable critical reaction, Adult Swim never commissioned the whole series.

I only came across it a couple of months ago, while browsing for background info on the comic after rereading said collected edition and getting pretty “There before the grace of God” about it. I discovered when I bought Dark Horse’s sadly short-lived and largely forgotten Instant Piano compilation comic on a whim, and my eyes also were forever scarred by the work of people like Mark Badger, Stephen Destefano and Kyle Baker (just kidding). At the time, in the early 90s, I felt some kind of kinship with the losers in the club. Now, some thirty years onwards, I can only pity them, like so many little Rob Gordons (hardly kidding).

For some reason the video was chopped into three parts on Youtube (could it be that YouTube only allowed 10 min videos at the time?). The following two are after the break.

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Stamps 2021 : Belgium

Belgian’s post office BPost always excels itself in its confusing communication style. If you want to know what the stamps they have planned for 2021 look like, you need to either watch a YouTube slide show or buy a 6.50 € booklet.  Luckily, cartoonist Conz already alerted us to the design he did for one of this years issues, featuring glow-in-the-dark images of animals in danger. The stamps, which also feature as this year’s EUROPA issues, will be available in June.

This year’s regular comics issue will celebrate women in comics with five different stamps, including Bianca Castafiore (Tintin), Aunt Sidonia (Suske & Wiske), Yoko Tsuno, Mademoiselle Jeanne (Gaston Lagaffe) and Natasha. The series, which will be published on January 25, also doubles as celebration of the 50th anniversary of the series about the adventurous flight attendant. 

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Tale of many panels – Saperlipopette!

Now and then a cartoonist seems to enjoy a particular scene that does not really fit into the story, but that’s just too funny to leave out.  Since they don’t want to disturb the general flow or the rhythm of the narrative, they will try to compress the scene as much as possible, often resorting to the POMP™, or Page Of Many Panels. I’m going to try and find some of my favorite examples, and present them to you on Fridays.

This first one is from Hergé’s L’Affaire Tournesol, Tintin’s return to earth after the moon saga. While chasing Tournesol’s kidnappers, Tintin and Haddock find themselves on a bus with an umbrella that’s not theirs, and a band-aid. The first is disposed of quite quickly, the other is a different matter. The scene is very much at odds with the rest of the story, a straightforward action adventure, but it is classic slapstick, and as such a callback to Hergé’s earliest books. And Haddock’s smile has never been broader (without alcohol).

Image © Hergé / Moulinsart 2021 – All rights reserved. Used for citation purposes. 

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Happy New Year with the Daltons

As we are still early in the New Year, and kids are probably already tired of their expensive Christmas presents, why not try a fun and creative activity straight from the seventies?

Here’s a papercraft project from Spirou 1102 (1971) featuring Lucky Luke’s hapless nemeses the Dalton nephews in their favorite activity : crushing rocks with their pickaxes.

Instructions after the click (they’re in French, but hey, you can read that, can’t you?). Just print out everything on sturdy but pliable cardboard, fold and glue and ready! And have yourself a happy new year!

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Bailly for Anima

Every year in February,  Brussels turns animation crazy thanks to Anima, the Brussels Animation Film Festival. The poster for the festival never fails to be a visual gem (remember Nicholas Fong‘s Zoetrope poster), and this year’s is no different.

This year Belgian cartoonist Pierre Bailly, the co-creator of Ludo (one of the best all-ages BD ever) came up with a sweet image that brilliantly catches the coziness of watching a film together in a cinema, with a certain Wild Things vibe to boot.

The illustration also features a cameo by Petit Poilu, a character Bailly created for his long-running early readers’ book and TV series of the same name.

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Keith Haring, Cartoonist

Keith Haring‘s art has always been special to me in that it is immediately recognisable — the broad, clear lines, the cartoony figures and the pop culture sensibilities set him aside from all his contemporaries.

I didn’t know he also made actual comics, however, until I saw them at the current retrospective in the Brussels Bozar museum. One of them is a quick biographical sketch in seventeen panels, bizarrely ending in his ascending up to heaven. It provides a concise but surprisingly complete overview of his influences and themes, including religion, homosexuality,  drugs, money and, of course, Andy.

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A Quick One?

“How about a quick one?” — it’s quite easy for this double entendre to be misinterpreted. But poor little Troll in this ad for Belgian craft beer Cuvée Des Trolls ends up getting his wish, in a way.

(From a men’s room ad, art by Alain Poncelet)

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